There is good news in medicine for both young athletes and older Americans suffering from mobility issues. Regenerative medicine has potential to heal tissue that has been damaged. Organ and bone marrow transplants are an example of regenerative medicine and have saved lives for decades. Today researchers have discovered how to use the body’s own healing process and target areas of need.
The physicians at Olympia Orthopaedic Associates are on the cutting edge of this medical technology. PRP, or Platelet Rich Plasma, injections are now available to patients in the Sports Medicine Clinic at OOA. A patient has his or her own blood drawn in the clinic. The blood is then placed in a machine that rapidly spins the blood to separate it into plasma, white blood cells and red blood cells. Separating the contents in a centrifuge allows collection of a more concentrated portion of the blood that is responsible for tissue repair and healing. The resulting PRP is then injected into the desired site. This injection boosts the body’s own healing powers.
Dr. Tracy Hamblin and Dr. Dominic Femiano are using this new technology in the sports medicine clinic at OOA to treat both chronic and acute injuries. “When an injury is chronic and has been going on for some time, the body stops creating an inflammatory response,” explains Dr. Hamblin. “The injection will remind the body to heal this area.” It may also aid in speeding up the healing process in more acute injuries.
Since the patient is using his or her own blood, there is virtually no risk of rejection as can happen in other regenerative techniques such as organ transplants or bone marrow. Some initial pain and swelling can be expected since the desire is to wake up the body’s natural healing inflammatory response with the PRP. In one appointment, a patient has their blood drawn, the blood is prepared and the PRP is injected. In under an hour, they are out the door and carrying on with their normal activities.
Most patients experience increased mobility and decreased pain within three months of receiving the PRP injection. For a patient with plantar fasciitis or a patient experiencing the pain of arthritis, this treatment can be life changing.
“We are seeing that patients with osteoarthritis will benefit from PRP injections in terms of decreased pain,” says Dr. Hamblin. At this time there is no evidence that there is cartilage regeneration following the PRP injection. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that affects over 20 million people in the US. “We think PRP will be more beneficial to patients with moderate osteoarthritis as opposed to treating severe cases,” she continues. As the population ages, the hope is that PRP injections and the advancing field of regenerative medicine can help us to retain mobility and age with reduced pain.
Insurance companies vary on their coverage and the staff at OOA can help you determine your benefit. Hamblin expects more companies will cover this treatment over time if the studies continue to show benefit. The injection saves money over a period of time by decreasing the use of pain medications and potentially eliminating the need for an expensive and more invasive surgery.
OOA offers another ground breaking treatment in the form of Tenex. Persistent tendon pain that is not responsive to PRP or other conservative treatments may benefit from Tenex. Tenex is a percutaneous tenotomy, a minimally invasive treatment for chronic tendon pain that increases blood flow and healing to a desired area. This treatment is ideal for a patient that has persistent pain in his or her shoulder, elbow, knee, Achilles tendon or plantar fascia. As Dr. Hamblin explains, “The Tenex technology is designed to break up scar tissue and remove it while leaving the healthy tissue in place.” Doctors Hamblin and Femiano have done more than 30 cases of the Tenex procedure with an 80% success rate. This is encouraging news for those who have struggled with plantar fasciitis and may be trying to sleep in the dreaded “boot.”
Dr. Hamblin hopes to be offering stem cell injections within six months. Again, the cells will be retrieved from the patient’s own body, eliminating any chance of rejection and lowering infection risk.
The physicians at Olympia Orthopaedic Associates have many options at their disposal. Every option from physical therapy and minimally invasive treatments to surgical options can be considered. Hamblin and Femiano want to keep you moving, no matter if it’s toward the finish line of a marathon or towards your grandkids at the park.
You can hear more about PRP injections from both doctors Femiano and Hamblin themselves at an upcoming Sports Medicine Seminar on March 15 at 5:30 p.m. at the OOA Westside Clinic. For questions or to RSVP, call Rachel Sherburne at 360-570-4862.
For more information on PRP injections and other healing options available at Olympia Orthopaedic Associates visit their website at or call them at 360-709-6230.